The 'record time' advance on the region, including consolidation of government control over Aleppo, is just the beginning, army vows
Bashar Assad is the current president of Syria as well as the Regional Secretary of the country's Ba'ath Party.
The son of late Syrian president Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad was chosen by his father as successor only after the untimely death of his older brother, Bassel. At the time, Bashar Assad was completing his ophthalmology training in London, and his father was worried that his son's lack of experience in state affairs would eventually spell the end of the Ba'ath party's 30-year reign in Syria.
Bashar, who is also a colonel in the Syrian military, assumed into the role of president in June 2000. One of his first acts as president was to release dozens of political prisoners from Syrian jails, a move that many hoped would be only the first in a series of actions that would lead Syria closer to reform and perhaps toward better relations with the West. A year later, however, Syrian security forces resumed a crackdown on political dissent inside the country.
Regarding his views on Israel, immediately upon entering office Assad stated his support for a Hezbollah presence on Israel's border with Lebanon, repeated his calls for an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, and expressed his support for the Palestinian use of violence against Israel.
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Assad regime was accused by the United States of allowing Jihadist fighters to enter Iraq through Syria. Assad also ignored repeated calls by Washington to end support for Hezbollah, and prevent Palestinian terror groups from operating on Syrian territory. All this, combined with his alliance with Iran, signaled swiftly deteriorating Syrian-U.S. relations.
The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, for which Syria was largely blamed, was the final straw that prompted Washington to pull its ambassador from Damascus.
Assad denied that Syria had been involved in the assassination, but a wave of Lebanese hostility sparked by the assassination of the much-loved former leader added to pressure on Syria to pull its troops from Lebanon after almost 30 years.
Despite the removal of troops, however, the Assad regime continues to play a role in Lebanese affairs, primarily through the continued support for Hezbollah, which Israel alleges is receiving arms from Damascus. Following the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Assad hailed the Shi'ite group's “victory” and condemned other Arab leaders for not supporting the militant organization against Israel.
Despite initial predictions that the politically inexperienced Assad would struggle to maintain a grip on power, the opposite appears to be true. Nonetheless, some pundits have speculated that Assad is merely a figurehead for the Ba'ath regime, and that Syrian policies are actually formed by others.
Bashar Assad is married to Asma Assad, a British-born Sunni Muslim from London, where the two met and she was raised. They have three children, the oldest named for his grandfather, Hafez.
The rapid advance by the Syrian regime has offset the fragile cooperation between Ankara and Moscow as Turkish-backed rebels launch operation in Idlib to retake areas lost to Syrian government forces
The Damascus-Aleppo highway, or the M5, cuts through all of Syria's major cities and is the key to who controls the country
Hours before, a war monitor reported that Syrian government forces seized control of the main Aleppo-to-Damascus highway that runs through Idlib
700,000 have fled the flashpoint province of Idlib since December, with close to 300,000 more at risk of doing so
Erdogan and Putin reportedly agreed to improve coordination of their countries' actions in Syria after a confrontation between Turkish and Syrian forces killed soldiers on both sides
Fighting between Turkish and Syrian forces shows Ankara has run out of options in Idlib
Comes hours after Ankara said Syrian shelling had killed five Turkish soldiers in the country's northwestern region of Idlib
Spokesman for the National Liberation Front coalition of rebel groups, disputed the Syrian media and Russian government accounts and said no such assault had taken place
Despite cease-fire, Russian and Syrian strikes to clear Idlib of opposition groups continue
This is the first confirmed high-level meeting between the two countries, with potential joint action against YPG reportedly on the agenda
Syrian forces have launched a ground offensive into the Al-Qaida dominated northwestern province of Idlib, displacing tens of thousands
Damascus has vowed to recover territory from Turkey-backed insurgents ■ Idlib region is home to hundreds of thousands of people who fled other parts of Syria
In interview in English with Italy's Rai News, Syrian leader says leaks of OPCW communications vindicate his claim of a U.S.-led conspiracy
The airstrikes on Idlib province have intensified over the past few weeks as the government appears to be preparing for an offensive on rebel-held areas
The UAE was a supporter of the Syrian opposition, which is now largely confined to the northern Idlib province after losing its strongholds elsewhere
The Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective that covers rebel-held areas in northern Syria also said 10 civilians were killed and dozens were wounded
Following the release of internal email by Wikileaks, controversy grows in the international watchdog divided along partisan lines
Opposition says government - vindicated by territorial gains on the ground - is buying time, after its delegation leaves talks early
Pro-government shelling set tents ablaze and hit a maternity hospital, local sources say
Some 20 targets hit in the attack, more than half Iranian ■ Netanyahu: 'Whoever harms us - we will strike back' ■ Iranians may have suffered fatalities, senior Israeli defense official says ■ Watchdog says 23 killed, 15 of which are non-Syrian ■ Russia calls attack a 'wrong move'
The new U.S. mission blocks Damascus' plans to regain the east and Iran's efforts to complete a land corridor through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon
In a wide-ranging interview with Russia's official international broadcaster, Assad commits to free elections in 2021
The Jews of Syria have become part of Russia's religious diplomacy, which partly aims to reassure American evangelicals and keep U.S. forces away
Syrian president says Kurdish controlled northeastern Syrian must return to state authority
Without firing a shot, Syrian government forces are returning to towns and villages in northeastern Syria where they haven't set foot for years
Russia suggests Turkey-Syria talks on invasion
U.S. to facilitate withdrawal of YPG forces during 5-day 'pause' ■ Latest estimate says close to 400 military casualties from fighting, at least 72 civilians ■ Pompeo meets with Netanyahu in Jerusalem ■ More than 190,000 displaced, with humanitarian concerns mounting
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Syrian Kurdish refugees started arriving in Kurdish Iraq this week, fleeing the Turkish offensive in northern Syria. ‘I had a feeling we’d have to reopen this place one day — after all, we’re in the Middle East,’ says the head of the camp now sheltering them, in a second special report